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Companies confront a new climate challenge: Home offices

Companies confront a new climate challenge: Home offices (Channel News Asia)

Tech and financial companies leading efforts to cut climate changing emissions are finding a new challenge from remote work: The carbon dioxide spewing out of home offices.

A few companies have begun counting what happens when employees boot up computers at home, turn up gas furnaces and ignore the world’s most energy-efficient corporate campuses.

It turns out that home set-ups popularised by the COVID-19 pandemic are eroding some of the climate benefit of abandoned commutes.

“Emissions didn’t go away,” said Amanda von Almen, head of emissions reduction at Salesforce. “They just shifted to another area.”

Half of 20 big companies Reuters spoke to, including Salesforce, have estimated emissions from home offices.

Six of those reported detailed figures, showing their half a million workers collectively emitted the equivalent of 134,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in about the first year of the pandemic. That is equivalent to consuming 15 million gallons of gasoline or burning 67,000 tonnes of coal.

While there are benefits to the climate from millions of employees not commuting when they work from home, the findings underscore that remote work is not a simple solution to cutting corporate emissions.

“Remote working has not delivered the environmental benefits that some people expected,” said Steve Sorrell, professor of energy policy at the University of Sussex.

“But they should probably have paid more attention to the decades of work in this area that suggest that environmental impacts may be less than expected.”

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Channel News Asia

5 May 2022